Hamas claimed responsibility for the bus bombing, saying it was an act of retaliation after Israel attempted to assassinate senior Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi in Gaza City on Tuesday. Rantisi survived the attack, in which helicopters fired six missiles at his vehicle, killing two people but only lightly wounding him.
The latest round of violence began over the weekend, when Palestinian gunmen killed five Israeli soldiers in raids in Gaza and the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel responded with Tuesday's assault on Rantisi, which killed one of his bodyguards and a female bystander. Then militants struck back with today's bus attack, the first suicide bombing in Israel since before last week's meeting of [Bush], [Ariel Sharon] and [Mahmoud Abbas] at the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
Israeli helicopters struck again in Gaza City later tonight, killing two more people whom local residents identified as Hamas activists. Hundreds of angry residents gathered outside the hospital, denouncing Sharon and Abbas and pledging support for Hamas.
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